Fayette jail running out of room; county talks rehab for old jail
It will cost upwards of $855,000, and as much as $1.25 million, to bring Fayette County’s “old” jail facility back into service.
The site was mothballed nine years ago when the new jail facility opened, Jail Administrator Maj. Charles Cowart told the Fayette County Commission in early April. But in recent months the average length of stay per inmate has increased to the point where the county needs to start looking at expansion options, Cowart said.
The facility has eclipsed 80 percent of its 384-bed capacity, which is the trigger for the analysis, Cowart said.
“We have peaked at over 350 at times. A couple of months ago it went down to 250. There’s just no way to predict how many you’re going to have,” Cowart said.
County Administrator Jack Krakeel recommended adding the discussion to next year’s budget planning talks.
Of the current jail population, some 58 are on a waiting list to be taken to the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve a felony sentence, Cowart said.
Some 70 to 75 percent of the jail population is awaiting trial, Cowart added.
Over the past four years, the facility has averaged a population of 272, officials said. A remodeling of the old jail would net another 150 beds.
Commissioner Lee Hearn said he would like to see what it would cost to add a new pod to the jail in lieu of rehabbing the old facility. Commissioner Steve Brown said he too was concerned about fixing the old facility because it might not last as long given the capital outlay necessary.
Cowart said the decision is up to the commission.
“I am not recommending this as the best way to go,” Cowart said.
If the old jail were rehabbed, it would be used to house “the baddest of the bad,” Cowart said. It would also free up another cellblock for non-violent female inmates, as all female inmates are currently congregated in one cellblock, he added.